The Household Box aims for a broad and ubiquitous demographic. The lifestyle companion is geared for those burgeoning into ‘adult’ life, facing a long climb to career peaks and nestled between two states. One foot quivers excitedly on the edge of the nest, whilst the other stamps defiantly, afflicted with Peter Pan syndrome. Independence is beckoning, cohabitation with friends and peers is potentially threatening.
The Household Box exists as a hybrid of board game and the type of coffee table paraphernalia that languishes with the clutter of pizza-menus, curious found objects and corporation-stamped freebies. A cursive font and dashes of loud primary colours creates an easy comparison to a tool-bar worn power point presentation; a forward projection suggesting how to inject frivolity into the latently mundane nature of modern domestic life.
A running commentary paints the negotiation of living space as a droll affair. The manual hopes to create an experience of fantasy following mantras inspired from popular culture, history and philosophy. The first half of the book, PAPERWORK, is a jovial antithesis to humdrum utility bills and tenancy agreements. It is an articulate quelling of the supposed stresses of becoming a settled adult. Contractual Census Forms dictate house rules and the terms of visitation for guests.
Naturally, individuals have varying scales of what they consider permissible behaviour in their home, even when they share it. Paperwork itemises the possible differences on a scale, pinning the home anywhere between an impenetrable field of serenity and an arena of reckless abandon. All potential outcomes and tensions of living in a boiling pot of principles is tackled with a specialised wall chart of emotion from ‘quietly despairing’ to ‘swaggering’.
The game rule flash-card half of the book, ACTIVITIES, details rules of drinking and fantasy game play. Appealing blueprints for bedroom décor and furniture arrangements are depicted for personality types ranging from the artiste to gregarious socialite. This is an amusing nod, wink and nudge to the caricatures and clichés everyone is easily prone to becoming.
The Household Box as a secular bible teaches needless lessons on the diverse ‘scales of co-existence’ towards financial, social, hygienic and egotistic attitudes. If a reader is tantalised by trivia pertaining to the musings on Time by Andreas Tarkovsky, they are probably capable of the diplomacy necessary to cohabit with diverse personalities. Admittedly, that is a generalisation, but that is the nature of the subject matter, after all.
Enjoyment stems from the bizarre comical notions of the boxed book. The wealth of influences (Ninety-six, who were directly thanked) reflects the depth of hypothesising and playful musings that bread the playful depiction of a world dominated by curiosities, activity and creativity. Novelties such as The Household Box are often fodder for instantly gratified and easily boring attention spans. Compiler Will Hobson can be rest assured that this collection of flash cards and bouncy-castle bureaucracy is the perfect, albeit short term, fancy for the wild animal still resisting domestication.
The Household Box is out now published by Redstone Press www.theredstoneshop.com
words Stefan Nicolaou